I'm late to the party (camping with my class does that!), but I have things to say about this episode so I'm going to write some stuff.
This turned out to be more meta-ry than reaction/review. I've had time to digest and think things over. I've also read a few reactions and I suppose this incorporates some of that.
I loved this episode. I loved it A LOT. It's probably one of my favs this season (after the opener maybe…).
I'm going to put aside a few things here - one being the ages of the boys (apparently Adam Glass wrote them as 14/10 instead of what we saw 16/12). Personally, I think it's irrelevant in terms of what we were being told in the episode. Sure, it's presents some canon problems but I am more interested in the essence
of what this was all about rather than tearing apart our beloved canon. That's not to say it's not important, it's just that I think what's MORE important is what this episode gave us in character development and understanding.
There were so many incredibly poignant moments during this episode. I can't believe we were given so much in such a short time. Before I delve into those a list of pure SQUEE:
That was a Classic Supernatural Episode (can we trade mark that please?!): - salt and burn, boys standing over a grave with Dean lighting a book of matches, solving a ghost case COMPETENTLY together, Sam choked and Dean thrown into a wall, E.M.F.F! (had to throw a "fucking" for good measure!) - damn if Dean doesn't still have that baby, the fucking amulet (oh how they tease us!) wonderful broments and a heartfelt moment in the Impala at the end. <33 It's a check list of a CSE!
Also, as I've seen most people mention, the casting of Dylan Everett as young!Dean was an excellent choice. He brought the right emotion and characterisation for Dean and nailed it. He made me cry so full friggin' marks there!
The thinky stuff:Dean"Sometimes you've got to do the best for you, even if it's going to hurt the ones you love".
It's perhaps a little clunky, but that, right there is what this episode was all about. This was a hallelujah moment for me. Finally! FINALLY we hear Dean admit that he's done something for himself even though he knows it will hurt someone he loves. This isn't about excusing
Dean for allowing an angel to possess Sam, but rather giving us background as to WHY he let that happen. It gives us an insight and a canonical moment that we can latch onto and see where it all started.
Sam alive for himself and he's finally acknowledged that. This is about Dean wanting something and taking it (and rather ironically it's something Sam has asked him to do a number of times). It's selfish, it's wrong but dammit he's given enough and he's not giving up this. He let go of the life with Sonny, he let go of an opportunity with a girl he really liked, he let go of achieving in school, he let go of some semblance of happiness to return to Sam. He is NOT letting go of Sam now because he has let go of too many other things he loves and wants.
Fuck me if that's not the essence of what I love in this show. Dean loving and needing the one thing in his life that makes him truly happy. Sam.
It's also crazy sad because by doing this he IS hurting and damaging the very thing he wants - brotherhood.
I'm amazed that after 9 years the power of this relationship is STILL THERE! It floors me time and time again.SamDean. Thank you. For always being there - for having my back.
Sam has thanked Dean a number of times for "being there" during the series. Sam has expressed his gratitude for "having his back", but this time it felt like he was thanking him choosing him
over other people, another life, other opportunities.
Sam discovered more about Dean and I think he continues to marvel in what Dean has done and what he has given up (at the same time as we do). The love goes both ways. It's different though - they love each other differently
, and that's exactly what it's all about. They need each other differently and this episode really emphasised that. It's not about one loving the other more, it's about how they fit together - Dean needing Sam to complete him and Sam feeling special and loved in a way that no one else can. It also shows how that codependence is both beautiful and damaging.
I also loved Sam's quiet competence during this episode.
We are SO heading for a major fall. It kills me to think about it, but I'm also excited. If the drama is organic because it's borne out of character flaws rather than contrived like the jealously we saw in S8, then I am in my happy place. Even when my heart is being torn apart.John
I actually had no issue with the way John was portrayed in this episode. Sure it hurt - especially thinking about him leaving both Sam and Dean at this time, but it's actually not too far from my fanon John.
My John is all about tough love. Leaving Dean with Sonny turned out to be the right move. This episode was about Dean's coming of age. John helped Dean grow up. He helped him face his responsibilities and he helped him make a choice. I have NO DOUBT that John knew about Sonny and his reputation with "bad boys". When Dean arrived at Sonny he was cocky and didn't seem to give a damn. Sure it was pretence but without Sonny's intervention he may have continued down this path. John was clearly failing (I totally believe Dean blew the food money on a card game. He was cocky enough to think he could win and when he didn't totally believed in his abilities to steal food. He was also stupid enough to hit a cop), Dean needed intervention and John was wise enough to give it to him.
John probably had a job on and knew that both Dean and Sam were safe where they were. What John did doesn't lessen him in my eyes at all. He's not the Father of the Year, but he cares enough to make sure they are safe and learning the lessons they need to stay alive.
Of course all of this is open to interpretation and I think we can all fill in whatever gaps we need to - including Dean leaving Sam for two months. Dean needed
to be away from Sam for him to fully appreciate how much he means to him. That smile at the end was not fake. Seeing Sam again brought him pure joy. I think in our heady "they would never leave each other like that" fanon we forget that they are actually brothers. They would have fought and annoyed and truly hated each other at times. Having a break from each other wouldn't have felt like there worlds have ended. It would have been a relief. And then
, after a while, they would have realised what they were both missing. And so much more...
Dean's (possibly) first kiss. Again I think his age is irrelevant here, it's the fact that he discovers girls and the intoxication of their comfort, approval and yumminess. This is about Dean discovering
a distraction. He finds a way to feel wanted and loved. It comes easy. So this coming of age story is not just about Dean shaking off his teenage attitude, or seeing the moment he learns about not being able to have things for himself, it's also about why he's into women. He was initially called a "womaniser" (S1 and S2 set him up to be so) but we've seen so much more since then. Now we get to see the role women play in his life. They accept him. They make him feel good. He can have them when he wants. And he can leave them. He may not want to, but he's become good at it. (I have a half written meta on Dean and Sex and this episode is further evidence of stuff I've been pondering. Mainly Dean's need for acceptance and comfort).
Dean also knows how to handle bullies. He's the one who taught Sam after all.
The MoTW = Dean being able to let go. I actually hope this isn't a foreboding message that one day Dean WILL learn how to let Sam go, but this is what the message seems to be. Timmy had to let go of his mother. Young!Dean had to let of a possibly better life. What does Dean need to let go of?
This episode hit so many right notes for me. I know we can quibble about ages and how the actors looked and the fact that Dean was away from Sam and that John left Dean with Sonny, but it was about giving Dean a reason for being who he is. It was about showing pivotal moments that shaped his character. It was a HUGE ask of a writer and I think Adam nailed it.
Was it to make Dean appear more sympathetic about his choice with Sam? Possibly. Does it work? I suppose that will depend on how much you accept the information we were given and how sympathetic you are to Dean's reasons. I think even if it does explain Dean's choices it probably won't excuse him.
He still has a lesson to learn. How to let go of Sam.